Tag Archives: Involvement with the Church

Church should be like…

A while back a former gang member came to our church. He was heavily tattooed and rough around the edges, but he was curious to see what church was like. He had a relationship with Jesus and seemed to get fairly involved with the church. After a few months, I found out the guy was no longer coming to the church. When asked why he didn’t come anymore, he gave the following explanation: “I had the wrong idea of what church was going to be like. When I joined the church, I thought it was going to be like joining a gang. You see, in the gangs we weren’t just nice to each other once a week—we were family.” That killed me because I knew that what he expected is what the church is intended to be. It saddened me to think that a gang could paint a better picture of commitment, loyalty, and family than the local church body. The church is intended to be a beautiful place of community. A place where wealth is shared and when one suffers, everyone suffers. A place where when one rejoices, everyone rejoices. A place where everyone experiences real love and acceptance in the midst of great honesty about our brokenness. Yet most of the time this is not even close to how we would describe our churches.

– Francis Chan

 

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Fellowship, involvement with the church, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality

A better strategy!

What would happen if we were to focus on the four out of every ten adults and one out of every three teenagers who have already asked Jesus Christ to be their Savior—and do everything we can to help them grow into inspired, unmistakable disciples of Jesus?

What would happen for God’s kingdom if we did not consider our job complete when people confess their sins and say a prayer inviting Jesus to be their Redeemer, but would use their new commitments to Christ as a launching pad for a lifelong quest to become individuals who are completely sold out—emotionally, intellectually, physically, spiritually—to the Son of God?

Churches work hard at trying to expand and strengthen the kingdom of God with all types of creative and life-affecting ministries. Thousands of churches are currently fine-tuning their worship services to make them more attractive and compelling. The typical church labors to integrate numerous programs, classes, and other offerings into its menu of possibilities…

But here’s a better strategy: Ignite people’s passion for God and get out of their way. When individuals are single-minded in their devotion to God, their commitment to His ways and His principles becomes much deeper, much more intense. Once they have made an enduring and serious commitment, the peripherals don’t matter as much.
~ Excerpted from Growing True Disciples by George Barna

“Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” ~ Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)

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Filed under Christianity, Church, Commitment, Discipleship, God's Will, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Religion and Spirituality, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

Will we be the church today?

The signature of Jesus, the Cross, is the ultimate expression of God’s love for the world. The church is the church of the crucified, risen Christ only when it is stamped with his signature; only when it faces outward and moves with him along the way of the Cross. Turned inward upon itself in bickering and theological hairsplitting, the church loses its identity and its mission.

~ Excerpted from The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

Being the church, the bride of Christ, is much more than simply gathering once or twice a week with fellow disciples. Church is walking with Jesus through an ordinary day, an ordinary week, to extend the grace and truth of the gospel to those we encounter.

Will we be the church today?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Church, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Loving others

Longing

I want neither a blood-’n’-guts religion that would make Clint Eastwood, not Jesus, our hero; nor a speculative religion that would imprison the gospel in the halls of academia; nor a noisy, feel-good religion that is a naked appeal to emotion.

I long for passion, intelligence, and compassion in a church without ostentation, gently beckoning to the world to come and enjoy the peace and unity we possess because of the Spirit in our midst.
~ Excerpted From The Signature of Jesus by Brennan Manning

 

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Filed under Church, Compassion, Fellowship, Holy Spirit, involvement with the church, Jesus, Peace

Are you hungry for God?

“…I don’t want to go to a church that values our experience of God above our hope in God.  As difficult as it is, and it sometimes can be agony, I want to experience my emptiness or loneliness and learn to hunger after God as I hunger for no one and nothing else.  I want to be convinced that no experience available to me in this life, from God or the devil, can satisfy that hunger.  Paul said it best: if there is no heaven, no better world where satisfaction is lasting and deep, then living like Jesus in this world is stupid (1 Cor. 15:19).”  ~ Larry Crabb in Real Church

A lot of focus in the church today has to do with creating satisfied customers so that they’ll return and our numbers will grow. More activities! More excitement! More buzz! But is this really of God?

Consider how we engage with one another as the body of Christ. We strive to support and encourage one another, which is good; but in the process we tend to rush toward solutions that will alleviate discomfort. We don’t want to see others struggling and if we’re honest, it makes us uncomfortable to be around those who are struggling.

But what if that period of struggling is exactly what God intends? What if God wants to use that dissatisfaction to grow in us a deeper hunger to find our ultimate satisfaction in Him alone?

When you walk away from your church gatherings, are you content with the amount of God you’ve encountered or are you hungry for more of Him?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Church, Consumerism, Contentment, God, involvement with the church, Relationship with God, Spiritual growth

Preacher uses F word in church!

It’s not what you think. Love the play on words and wish I could get away with this!

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
~ Matthew 6:14-15

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Church, Forgiveness, Funny, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Jesus, Loving others

Are we being real?

Look at the blue building in the picture below. Notice anything different about it? For starters, it’s not real. Disney is busy reconstructing the location so they put an elaborate canvas over the area so that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

I can appreciate that. Disney is working hard to create a whole different environment for you to experience and they don’t want this construction zone to distract from the atmosphere of the Magic Kingdom they are working hard to provide.

At Disney World, this is awesome!

At church, this is lethal!

Each of us is an unfinished work of art being reshaped and recrafted by our Maker until the day we go to be with Him. But doing life as a community of believers is part of the process.

When we cover it all up we are protecting ourselves from being judged or ridiculed; which unfortunately sometimes happens. But we also make it impossible for God to use other believers as part of the process of reshaping our lives to reflect the life of Jesus.

I’m not suggesting that we come to church tossing all our dirty laundry around. No one likes to be covered in someone else’s smelly stuff. But I am suggesting that we drop our mask of pretending that everything is OK and just fine.

Church should be the one place where we can experience a lavish abundance of God’s grace so that He can do whatever reshaping needs to be done.

As you gather this weekend, pray for your church family. Then leave your mask at home and go wearing the grace of God that you want others to share in. Lets…

Be the church and be real!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Authenticity, Brokenness, Church, God, Grace, involvement with the church, Morphing, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth

A role I wasn’t expecting to play

We got there early and endured a hot sun to have primo spots up front, but it was worth it. A parade at Disney World is nothing short of spectacular; the characters, the music, the excitement.

We enjoyed visiting with the folks next to us who were from Canada and we guzzled some drinks to stave off the heat, but the parade was the big attraction.

As the familiar characters walked, danced or rode by on floats I took it all in and got some great pictures. Watching a Disney parade is great fun but then it happened.

I was standing there minding my own business like every other spectator along the parade route when I suddenly and unexpectedly became part of the festivities.

The wolf from Pinocchio was walking by and along with others close by I stuck my arm out to high-five him on the hand… uh, paw. But he wouldn’t do it.

He stopped, turned to face me and placed his hands on his hips. Motioning for me to lean in towards him he took his cape and used it to wipe the sweat off my bald head.

After everyone had a good laugh he gave me a high-five and continued down the street. No one in my family thought to take a picture but we all had fun joking about it afterwards.

Disney wants you to be more than a spectator, they want you to be a part of all that’s going on; and so does God. 

Christianity, in America at least, has become largely an event for spectators. We show up on Sunday and take it all in then go about our week as usual. But that’s not God’s design.

God intends for each of us to be fully engaged with His kingdom purposes and plans every single day. Some days are spectacular, but most are more mundane. But even our mundane Lower Story moments help to advance God’s Upper Story agenda.

A little, unknown boy was there to supply his fish and bread for Jesus to use in feeding thousands of hungry followers.

Some unknown person was there to provide the animal for Jesus to ride in on for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Someone was there to hold the rope used to lower Paul from a window in Damascus for his middle-of-the-night escape.

Sure it’s just another mundane day with nothing spectacular on the horizon. But that doesn’t mean God won’t pull you in or use you to touch a life in some special way today.

Are you ready?
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If you’re following along in The Story read chapter(s) 14 this week. To learn more about The Story check out the tab above.

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, God's Will, involvement with the church, Kingdom of God, Serving, The Story

It’s bigger than you and me

If you asked 10 different people why they blog or what they get out of it, you would likely get 10 different answers. But more interesting to me would be how it has changed for them since they first started.

I began blogging while in-between ministries. I had an urge to share what God was teaching me but had no audience. And blogging about God daily gave me a greater awareness of His presence in the midst of what was happening.

I have also come to appreciate the process of blogging because it has taught me to craft my words and ideas more carefully. I’m learning that sometimes less is more.

But the biggest benefit I receive from blogging right now is the constant reminder that God’s kingdom is active all around the globe.

Why is it so easy for us to develop the mindset that the bulk of what God is doing revolves around our particular church family?

Don’t get me wrong. I greatly value the local church because it serves as the hands and heart of God to that community. But each church group is just one tiny blip on the radar screen of the kingdom of God.

One core sin issue, and perhaps the biggest, is our propensity to be self-absorbed. Multiply that by however many people you have in a church family and the potential to think that it all revolves around us is enormous!

But blogging keeps me connected and involved with others who are actively living out God’s kingdom purposes right where they are – all around the world.

Last week I added a new feature to the sidebar of my blog. On the right side and lower down is a map of the world. Each red dot represents a visitor to my blog. There are people in places I’ve never been who are sharing the journey of following Jesus.

Love your church family. Pray for them. Get involved. But remember that God’s kingdom exists everywhere His people exist and live out His purposes.

“Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 6:9-10

May the kingdom of God advance today throughout the world as you and I demonstrate the love and grace and truth of God wherever we are and in whatever we are doing!

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Blogging, Christianity, Church, God, influence with the world, involvement with the church, Kingdom of God

Investing in people, growing as a faith community

I don’t know how it works everywhere around the globe, but here in the American midwest the seasons of the year are noticeably different. This plays a major role in the process of growing a garden.

Well-groomed gardens require different activities according to the season, and those activities occur daily.

This very same principle of ongoing growth is also very evident and necessary in any faith community in which God is actively working to grow and change lives.

So we must continue to invest in the people around us, serving them, receiving from them, and letting God use those experiences to grow us into communities that create results and change lives for the better. We must recognize that significance occurs within the day-in, day-out process of interacting with others.

Just as we make changes in our gardens according to the seasons of the year, so we must adapt to changes within our communities as they struggle, grow, get pruned, grow some more, and flourish. When the harsh circumstances of winter come, for instance, we must huddle together (like the penguins!) in order to sustain one another.

When the spring and summer months provide us the opportunities, we must share in the work of planting and nourishing. And when it’s time for the harvest, we must be willing to serve and celebrate all that God has done and is doing.
~ Excerpted from A Significant Life by Jim Graff

Before we just assume that this is happening within the faith community we are a part of, let me pose a few questions to consider:

Do you see evidence of God working to grow people in your church family?

What season of the growth cycle is your faith community experiencing?

In what ways are you involved with others in sharing the journey of following hard after Jesus?

Are you praying for your church family, inviting God’s Spirit to work in the lives of others?

In what ways are you personally investing in the lives of others to encourage their growth in Christ?

Are you surrendered to what God is wanting to do in and through you?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Church, Commitment, Discipleship, God, Holy Spirit, involvement with the church, Loving others, Morphing, Prayer, Serving, Spiritual formation, Spiritual growth, Surrender